70 Ways to Address Lagging Reading and Writing Scores

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When I read articles like the following one, my first reaction is to leave the profession — to curl up in a comfy chair; read those classics that I missed; forget that such intellectual blindness and deafness reign supreme in the education community. As individuals and our nation continue to be destroyed by the inexcusable failure of the schools to teach children how to read, schools still chase empty, simplistic, costly, and life-wasting fads:

Lexington Herald-Leader
A reading revival
Training equips teachers to target schools’ weaknesses
From intimate literature circles to fun bags to reading buddies, elementary teachers across the state are armed with an arsenal of ideas to address Kentucky’s lagging reading and writing scores.

Aimed at bringing all students’ literacy skills up to par, many of the teachers said they look for test scores to be on the rise after participating in the Kentucky Reading Project, a year-long professional development program that trains teachers in unique reading and writing techniques proven to raise achievement…

“I feel that reading is a skill that needs to be really strong for kids to be successful in other subject areas and as they get older, too,” said Emily Coy, a teacher at Warner Elementary School in Nicholasville who participated in KRP…

“I highly recommend this program to teachers,” she said. “The biggest thing about the training is getting to meet with other teachers to hear their ideas, and see what they do in their classrooms and what’s working for them.”

Where has a teacher been to only now consider that literacy is probably the foundation skill for education, achievement, scholarship, employability?

Why spend time and money learning gimmicks — fun bags, reading buddies — "from other teachers” while children await timely and effective reading instruction?

When will teachers understand that in order to read English, one must learn the Code in which English is written? “…Schools’ weaknesses” stem from the fact that most administrators and teachers have yet to grasp and/or accept, that most vital fact of life and learning. To be a reader, one must rapidly and accurately decode the Code in which English is written and pull meaning from that text!!!

One must learn to read music in order to do well in music. One must learn to read choreography notes in order to dance special and historical dances. Prior to the tape recorder, secretaries learned to write and then to read shorthand in order to transcribe an orally dictated letter into the CODE that would then be typed on the page.

TO TEACH READING; TO REMEDIATE READING; TO TEACH SPELLING; TO REMEDIATE SPELLING — WE MUST TEACH THE WRITTEN CODE FOR SPOKEN ENGLISH.

The 70 Keys to Decoding and Encoding English

1.) A can represent three different sounds: /aa/ as in sat; /ae/ as in navy; /ah/ as in want. A usually says its name at the end of a syllable.

2.) B represents the sound: /b/ (not – /buh/)

3.) C can represent two different sounds: /k/ as in cake; /s/ as in nice, icy. In order for C to say /s/ it must be followed by an e, i, or y.

4.) D represents the sound: /d/ as in dig drag. However, in connected speech, when the mouth is rapidly moving from one sound configuration to the next, t’s often sound more like: /d/ – shatter fatter

5.) E can represent two different sounds, plus can be silent at the end of words:/e/ as in met; /ee/ as in me. E usually says its name at the end of a syllable.

6.) F represents the unvoiced sound: /f/ as in fish not /fuh/; not /eff/

7.) G can represent two sounds: /g/ as in gate; /j/ as in gym. In order for G to say /j/ it must be followed by e, i, or y. However, the letters e and i do not always make G say /j/: get, girl, give.)

8.) H represents the unvoiced sound: /h/ as in hat (Not /huh/)

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9.) I* can represent four sounds: /i/ as in ink; /ie/ as in silent; /ee/ as in machine; /y/ as in onion

10.) Y* can represent four sounds: /y/ as in yoyo; /i/ as in gym; /ie/ as in my; /ee/ as in baby

**Teach the vowels as: “A, E, I/Y, O, U” for i and y often exchange places, and y used in so many words.**

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11.) Jrepresents the unvoiced sound: /j/ as in jam not /juh/

12.) K represents the unvoiced sound: /k/ as in kite not /kuh/

13.) L represents the liquid sound: /l/ as in Linda not /ell/

14.) M represents the nasal sound: /m/ as in mother

15.) Nrepresents the nasal sound: /n/ as in not nice

16.) O can represent three sounds: /o/ as in hot; /oe/ as in open;/oo/ as in do. O usually says its name at the end of a syllable.

17.) P represents the unvoiced sound: /p/ as in paper not /puh/

18.) QU usually represents the unvoiced: /kw/ as in quilt. It can also represent the sound: /k/ as in mosquito

19.) R represents the liquid sound: /r/ as in rate not /ruh/

20.) S can represent two sounds: /s/ as in sit; /z/ as in boys

21.) T represents the unvoiced sound: /t/ as in top. However, in connected speech, when the mouth is rapidly moving from one sound configuration to the next, d’s often sound more like: /t/ – ladder

22.) U can represent three sounds: /u/ as in up; /ue/ as in music; short /oo/ as in put. U usually says its name at the end of a syllable.

23.) V represents the sound: /v/ as in violin

24.) W represents the sound: /w/ as in water not /wuh/

25.) X usually represents the sound: /ks/ as in box. One must never write an s after an x.

26.) Z represents the sound: /z/ as in zero. Words beginning with the /z/ sound are always spelled with a z.

That is the Simple Code! Now to learn the Advanced Code…

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27.) SH* represents the sound: /sh/ as in shape, fresh. SH can only be used at the beginning or end of a base word, but never to start a second and subsequent syllable, except for ship.

28.) TI* represents the sound: /sh/ in a second or subsequent syllable.

You can often look to your root word for help: vacate/vacation; infect/infectious; confident/confidential

29.) CI* represents the sound: /sh/ in a second or subsequent syllable.

You can often look to your root word for help: face/facial; space/spacious; finance/financial

30.) SI* can represent two sounds: /sh/ in a second or subsequent syllable.

If the word or root ends with /s/ use si: sess/session; compress/compression; tense/tension. SI also represents the sound: /zh/ as in vision division

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31.) EE represents the sound: /ee/ as in seen

32.) TH can represent two sounds: /th/ unvoiced thin; /th/ voiced then

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33.) OW can represent two sounds: /ow/ as in cow; /oe/ as in low. Use this spelling for representing the sounds at the end of words.

34.) OU can represent four sounds: ow/ as in round; /oe/ as in soul; /oo/ as in you; /u/ as in country. Picture someone falling down the stairs as they say: “OW! OH! OO! then UH as they hit the floor.

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35.) OO can represent three sounds: /oo/ as in boot; short /oo/ as in book; /oe/ as in door floor

36.) CH can represent three sounds: the English – /ch/ as in church; the Greek – /k/ as in chorus school; the French – /sh/ as in chef

37.) AR represents the sound: /ar/ as in car mar far. At the end of some words, this phonogram will represent the sound /er/ as in collar dollar burglar.

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38.) AY represents the sound: /ae/ as in day play say. Use this spelling at the end of words.

39.) AI represents the sound: /ae/ as in rain pain

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40.) OY represents the sound: /oy/ as in boy oyster. Use this spelling at the end of words.

41.) OI represents the sound: /oy/ as in soil point

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42.) ER represents the sound: /er/ as in her. Out of the 20,000 most commonly used words, the “er” spelling is used approximately 2,063 times.

43.) UR represents the sound: /er/ as in nurse. Out of the 20,000 most commonly used words, the “ur” spelling is used approximately 247 times.

44.) IR represents the sound: /er/ as in firs. Out of the 20,000 most commonly used words, the “ir” spelling is used approximately 114 times.

45.) WOR represents the sound: /er/ as in works when controlled by a “w." Out of 20,000 words…the “wor” spelling is used approximately 51 times.

46.) EAR represents the sound: /er/ as in early. Out of 20,000 words…the “ear” spelling is used approximately 31 times.

**My thanks to Wanda Sanseri for the usage numbers.**

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47.) NG represents the nasal sound: /ng/ as in sing sang sung

48.) EA can represent three sounds: /ee/ as in eat meta; /e/ as in bread; /ae/ as in break

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49.) AW represents the sound: aw/ as in awful saw. Use this spelling at the end of words.

50.) AU represents the sound: /aw/ as in author August

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51.) OR represents the sound: /or/ as in for. At the end of some words, this phonogram can represent the sound: /er/ as in doctor reflector investor

52.) CK represents the sound: /k/ as in clock sick sack. CK is used at the end of syllables after short vowels.

53.) WH represents the unvoiced and airy: /wh/ as in why where. Do not let children say the voiced /w/ for the unvoiced /wh/. This sound is too often being mispronounced due to lazy speech and parent and teachers failing to insist that children speak clearly and accurately. A puff of air can be felt on the hand if /wh/ is being accurately pronounced.

54.) ED can represent three sounds: /ed/ as in wanted kidded; /d/ as in loved cared; /t/ as in wrecked passed

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55.) EW* can represent two sounds: /oo/ as in grew: /ue/ as in few. Use this spelling at the end of words.

56.) UI* can represent two sounds: /oo/ as in suit;/ue/ as in fruit

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57.) OA represents the sound: /oe/ as in boat coat

58.) OE represents the sound: /oe/ as in toe foe

59.) OUGH can represent six sounds: /oe/ as in though; /oo/ as in through; /uf/ as in rough; /off/ as in cough; /aw/ as in thought; /ow/ as in bough

60.) GU represents the sound: /g/ as in guess

61.) PH represents the two-letter Greek /f/ as in telephone

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62.) IE can represent three sounds: /ee/ as in believe fierce; /ie/ as in pie lie; /i/ as in mischief prairie. Note that in many parts of the country, we tend to only use the first two pronunciations, saying /ee/ at the end of words.

63.) EI can represent three sounds: /ee/ as in receive ceiling; /ae/ as in their veil rein; /i/ as in forfeit. Remember: “I before E, except after c, unless it says A.” Exceptions: neither foreign sovereign seized counterfeit forfeited leisure either weird protein heifer

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64.) EY can represent three sounds: /ae/ as in they convey; /ee/ as in key; /i/ as in valley. Again, note that some English speakers usually use the first two sounds, saying /ee/ at the end of words like valley.

65.) EIGH represents the “4-letter a” sound: /ae/ as in neighbor eight

66.) IGH represents the “3-letter i” sound: /ie/ as in high fight

67.) KN represents the sound: /n/ as in know knock knit. Only use this “2-letter n” to begin words.

68.) GN represents the sound: /n/ as in gnaw sign. This “2-letter n” can be used in beginning, medial, and final positions.

69.) WR represents the “2-letter r”: /r/ as in wreck write wren. This spelling can only be used at the beginning of words and the words convey a sense of twisting.

70.) DGE represents the sound: /j/ as in judge Dodge. Use this spelling at the end of syllables after short vowels.

Linda Schrock Taylor [send her mail] is an educational consultant, homeschooling mom, and public school special ed teacher. She is available for presentations, inservices, and workshops.

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